Screen cloths have an important role in horticulture. Forty years ago, screen cloths were used to keep the sunlight out, now we see that screen cloths are used to create an optimal climate. Peter Ollevier, Sales & Marketing Director, Phormium: "Ten years ago, there was a turnaround. People started to realize that a screen is more than just a cloth for shadow. That had a lot of new implications for us."
From textile to horticulture
Phormium is making large steps. Peter: "We have grown from a textile company into an established company within the horticulture section. The focus of our company in Lokeren is for 90% on the agricultural sector. Around ten years ago, that was around 50%, The growth is necessary to meet the increasing demand and to keep up with all developments in horticulture."
"In recent years, we had significant growth. Mainly in screen cloths, but also in other areas (mushrooms and landscaping). We also focus on geographical expansion. There is a new, second sales manager for the United States and a new sales manager for Latin America, which is now starting to come to fruition. We are selling products we were not selling before."
Screen cloths in the future
Not just the company, but also the developments around screen cloths are increasing significantly. Arjan van der Veer, sales manager Phormium: "I expect the number of screen cloths to grow in the future. A grower used to have only one screen cloths, now he often has three. 'Custom made' screen cloths are more and more often used."
According Arjan, the function of the screen cloths also keeps on developing. "Even more diffusion and more energy saving. We keep on optimizing the current screen cloths. We also doing a lot of research into new innovations, as there are certainly new screen cloths to develop."
"To grow, you must innovate"
The company has its own R&D department, the Phorium Research Centre. At the moment, we have ten innovation project delving into various aspects. Peter: "We cannot say much about the details. But for us, it is clear we have to keep on innovating if we want to grow. Because we have a pilot loom and a pilot knitting machine, we can quickly try out new things at our R&D department."
Phormium uses special weaving techniques. "Our weaving techniques distinguish us from other companies. Our weaving technique provide robust and lasting screen cloths. The customer knows and know how to find us." Last year, Phormium added a knitting machine to their line of equipment. "This enables us to provide a complete assortment for different climate solutions in the greenhouse.
Weaving or knitting?
Arjan: "When a cloth is woven, it is incredibly strong. Because the bands are doubled, the cloth provides a lot of darkness and superior energy savings. When you weave bands, they are placed crosswise, so you always have double bands. We are the only ones working in this way."
A few years ago, the market was asking more and more for an extra bright screen cloth. "In utmost secrecy, we started to research how we could realize this. After three years of research, this produced the Phormitex Crystal last year. It is an extra light, transparent energy cloth, with a transparency of 90%, a market record. The cloth is mainly used in the vegetable cultivation."
Peter: "We can now offer both solutions to the customer, depending on the needs of the customer".
Source: Hortidaily.com (06/11/2020): https://www.hortidaily.com/article/9264758/people-have-realized-that-a-s...